Netflix to set own official UK age ratings under BBFC system

Bird BoxImage copyright

Image caption

Netflix film Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, was rated a 15 by the BBFC

Netflix is to set the official UK age ratings for its own films and shows using a new algorithm that will mean its entire catalogue has a rating.

Until now, ratings such as PG, 12 and 18 have been set by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

Netflix will become the first company to determine ratings that will be given the BBFC seal of approval.

Netflix will manually tag things like violence and swearing and the algorithm will pick the appropriate age rating.

A BBFC spokeswoman said: “This is the first time that the BBFC have collaborated with a content provider and put together a scheme that will eventually mean that they will rate their own content. This content will then receive a BBFC rating.

“The content will be viewed by a person, however the classification decision will be made digitally from the tags that the viewer inputs in to the system.

“Therefore if the content contains violence at a particular point it will be tagged as such and these tags will form the basis of the final rating.”

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The system will be tested in a year-long pilot, but the BBFC said it was confident it would give accurate results.

The body told BBC News it would “provide ongoing training and support to Netflix to ensure that quality standards do not slip”.

It said it wants 100% of films and programmes on Netflix to have BBFC ratings and for the system to be extended to other streaming services.

The announcement comes after BBFC research found almost 80% of parents were concerned about children seeing inappropriate content online.

The BBFC has also published a set of guidelines for streaming and gaming platforms to achieve “greater and more consistent use of trusted age ratings online”.

They recommend wider use of BBFC age classifications on online video and the equivalent Pan European Game Information (PEGI) symbols for games.

“Our research clearly shows a desire from the public to see the same trusted ratings they expect at the cinema,” BBFC chief executive David Austin said.

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